Looking for an Editor: Five Characteristics Every Good Editor Must Have


Looking for an EditorIf you’re looking for an editor to proofread your copy, you want to make sure that you’re hiring the best for the job. After all, nothing could be more horrifying to a writer of course than having their masterpiece published full of spelling mistakes and syntax errors!

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If you want your text to be flawless, informative, and entertaining, here are five characteristics that your ideal copy editor should possess:

  1. A Good Handle on the Subject

    Editors usually become editors after they’ve spent a significant amount of time working on their craft and gaining experience in various areas. The best editors out there should ideally be at least familiar with the subject you’ve written about, while also possessing excellent writing abilities in general. When a writer’s been paired up with a great editor, they’re really able to get the message across, using precise words to capture the essence of the orator or author’s message.

  2. An Eye for Errors

    There’s a lot more to producing clean copy than simply using “spell check.” While editors do keep a keen eye out for any spelling or grammatical errors, they go above and beyond that. When an editor receives a novel manuscript, for example, they not only correct any obvious errors, but they also often find little contextual errors that the author may have missed the first time around. They may even rewrite full sentences and paragraphs, or make suggestions for improving the text. Essentially, the editor is the one who has the “dirty job” of cleaning up a piece of writing and polishing up messy copy. For further reference, Wikipedia has a good article on what copy editing’s all about.

  3. An Understanding of Deadlines

    No editor will be able to keep his or her job if they continue to miss important deadlines. When you’re looking for an editor, you want to make sure that you’ll be able to receive a fully proofed copy by the time the editor says it will be done. An editor should be able to tell you how much time he or she will need to complete the editing process, which usually depends on the amount of time it will take for them to do at least two full reads and revisions of your work.

  4. An Organized Desk

    Chances are that the editor that you choose to proofread your work won’t only be working with you, but several other clients as well. The best editors in the business are able to keep all of their tasks organized and in order. Avoid any editors who can’t give you firm dates on when they plan to work on your copy or tell you what their standard turnaround time is.

  5. A Backbone

    Editing isn’t just about sitting in an office and fixing up and rephrasing words. Many times, editors will be criticised in one way or another for the job they’ve done. For example, transcription editors often receive a lot of grief from transcribers who claim that “this” phonetic mistake or “that” incorrect word use error never happened—but editors know better. Editors have to be prepared to back up any changes that they make to the original copy, no matter what criticism they think that the author or publishing company may give.

So when looking for an editor to go through your work, choose wisely, and use these five critical skills to help you find someone you’re comfortable with—the most important point of all.

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